6 Secret Messaging Apps Your Kids are Probably Using
Secret messaging apps was one of the key triggers for creating the Online Safety Group, and writing our parent's guide, How To Protect Your Kids Online. There are two distinct types to be aware of - the first are those that look innocent (such as calculators) but hide a messaging and image sharing capability.
The second type are apps designed for messaging, but allow for communication that you might not be aware of, or know to look for.
You think you have a pretty good handle on your child's internet activities because you can monitor their e-mails and texts, but in this digital age, there are so many ways they can talk to others without their parents ever knowing. There are now a wide array of messaging apps that allow children and teens to feel more comfortable with over sharing either through anonymity or stating that messages are deleted after a certain amount of time.
The unfortunate problem with these supposed secret messaging apps is that they aren't as secret as you'd like or as anonymous. Self destructing messages can be kept with a screen shot and those determined enough can break anonymity with ease.
So what apps should you keep a lookout for on your child's phone?
This messenger app allows users to send texts, pictures, and video. Many enjoy Kik messenger because it allows them to send unlimited messages even if they have limited texting plans. While it does not show people's real names, the layer of anonymity is thin at best. What's more is that those users can actually browse the internet inside the app, bypassing any blocks.
The old AOL-era chat rooms were thought to be dead, but really they just moved to smaller platforms like Omegle. For parents that find this app on their teen's phone, it is probably best to intervene right away. The premise of the app is to set people up to chat with strangers, and like chat rooms of old, mostly people on Omegle only want to talk about lewd things. Although anonymous, most chats are highly inappropriate.
3. Yik Yak
This app allows users to chat with people that are geographically close to them. While it is occasionally a good way to connect with a community, Yik Yak has been at the heart of some controversy for those that would use it for violent threats. While anonymous, the developers are compliant with law enforcement, meaning that anonymity fades quickly when things get violent.
4. Burn Note
This app is like a less sophisticated SnapChat. Burn Note only allows users to send text-based messages and reveals only one word at a time. After a set amount of time, the message is deleted. Unlike SnapChat, it is more difficult to take screenshots, but still possible. The increased difficult encourages kids to reveal more than they probably should. As you can send Burn Note messages to those even if they don't have the app, it is a popular cyberbullying tool.
At a glance, Line seems like a rather innocent chat app. It allows text, video, and voice messages to be set between friends and has a lot of child-friendly features like stickers, emoticons, and its own social network. Unfortunately, like so many other apps, dark things happen on Line just below the surface. Among its other features, Line also has a Hidden Chat feature similar to SnapChat messages.
These messages can include everything from pictures and videos to location information with settings that allow it to exist anywhere in between two seconds to a week. Line insists that its servers are secure, but SnapChat insisted the same thing, so you can never be too careful.
The Whisper app is a social "confessional" where under the guise of anonymity people are invited to post their deepest secrets and innermost thoughts on the app. Here, people in a geographic location can read them. For most people, it is cathartic, but there is a reason it is only for ages 17 and up. Once kids start getting involved, things can get a bit too serious, too quickly.
While most secrets on Whisper are silly, some can be heartbreaking. Others can be just plain dark. While mostly innocent enough, this is not an app meant for children or teens.